USDA implements Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program to aid in recovery
BOZEMAN, Mont. – April 13, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced it will make disaster payments of up to $2.36 billion, as provided by Congress, to help America’s farmers and ranchers recover from hurricanes and wildfires. The funds are available as part of the new 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). Sign-up for the new program, authorized by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, will begin no later than July 16.
The program will help producers in fire-impacted counties, including those in Montana, recover from the devastating impact of the 2017 wildfires, according to Mike Foster, state executive director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Montana.
Unlike counties in states devastated by hurricanes, a Presidential disaster declaration will not be required for producers in fire-impacted counties in Montana. Eligibility for the program for wildfire recovery will be determined at the local level.
The new 2017 WHIP will provide significant disaster assistance and be guided by the following principles:
Compensation determined by a producer’s individual losses rather than an average of losses for a particular area (where data is available);
Producers who purchased higher levels of risk protection, such as crop insurance and noninsured crop disaster assistance program, will receive higher payments;
Advance payments up to 50 percent; and
A requirement that payment recipients obtain future risk protection.
The 2017 calendar year was a historic year for natural disasters, and this investment is part of a broader suite of programs that USDA is delivering to rural America to aid recovery. In total, the Act provided more than $3 billion in disaster relief by creating new programs, and expediting or enhancing payments for producers.
FSA will distribute more information on how producers can file claims for WHIP disaster payments at a later date. For questions on how to establish farm records in preparation for a future WHIP disaster signup, or to learn about other disaster assistance programs, producers are asked to contact their local USDA service center.